Sharing the expertise of a world-class university with our partners in Botswana to build capacity and excellence in clinical care, education, and research.
Read, forward, save or print an overview of our program here. (PDF 7/12)
In 2004 Penn signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Health in Botswana to participate in medical care and educational programs at the Princess Marina Hospital in the capital city, Gaborone. This was later expanded to include the Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital in Francistown, the second largest city as well as several other district hospitals in Botswana. In 2004 Penn received funding from the US Public Health Service through PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), which is a program that provides US Public Health Service funding to 16 affected nations, including Botswana.
The combination of PEPFAR funds and research grants currently support approximately 60 full time physicians, nurses, social workers, and auxiliary health personnel working for Penn in Botswana. Many are located in Gaborone, with a few now working in Francistown. Our doctors and other health care personnel provide inpatient care on the medical wards at Princess Marina and Nyangabgwe Hospitals, outpatient care in the HIV clinics, and outreach inpatient and outpatient care at the surrounding district hospitals and local government clinics. In addition, Penn physicians and nurses run a referral clinic for complicated HIV/TB co-infected patients. The Penn physicians are directly involved in training local providers with daily “bedside” teaching and in teaching at four weekly educational conferences.
In 2011, BUP launched its Health Informatics Capacity Building Program, which consists of four major initiatives: Telemedicine and mHealth strategic planning with the Ministry of Health, National Health Informatics symposium planning and implementation with various local partners, Health Informatics training and support for key departments at the Ministry of Health, and Health Informatics curriculum development with the University of Botswana and other local academic institutions. All initiatives are PEPFAR funded.
This program was born from various telemedicine and mHealth pilot studies, information technology assessments, and health informatics workshops that BUP has been spearheading since 2008. The mobile (cellular) telemedicine projects are in the fields of Dermatology, Oral Medicine, Radiology, Cervical Cancer Screening, and mLearning (mobile based medical education and point of care tools). The program’s main objective is to develop a sustainable model for the projects by facilitating local partnerships and ownership in order to scale them up around the country.
In September 2006, the University of Botswana and Penn signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish collaborations in medicine, nursing and for student exchange programs at the two institutions. The University of Botswana decided to form a new medical school that enrolled its first undergraduate class in August 2008. Previously, Botswana was sending approximately 50 students a year to train in medicine in other countries including South Africa, Australia or Great Britain. Perhaps only 10% of these students returned to Botswana to practice medicine. This trend is now changing and in 2007-2008, approximately 45 Batswana medical students returned to Botswana for internship training at the main referral hospitals. Penn has helped to develop the curriculum for a rotating internship at the teaching hospitals. Penn also helped develop a curriculum for post-graduate residency programs in Internal Medicine.
Other Schools at Penn have established collaborations with the University of Botswana, including the School of Nursing, the Wharton Business School, the School of Arts and Science, Annenberg School of Communication, the School of Social Policy and Practice and the Veterinary School of Medicine. Exchange programs for trainees include Penn undergraduates doing “Semester Abroad” experiences in Botswana, summer internship programs for Penn undergraduates, graduate, and nursing students in Botswana, summer internships for University of Botswana students at Penn with full tuition and housing, doctoral student scholarships for University of Botswana students in PhD programs at Penn, and sabbatical experiences for University of Botswana faculty at Penn.
In 2010, 26 Penn Medical students chose a 6-7 week elective to work as a sub-intern on the medical wards in Botswana at the Princess Marina Hospital. In addition, 15 Penn Medicine residents, and approximately 18 other residents or fellows in Dermatology, Family Medicine, Infectious Diseases, Neurology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, Radiology and Surgery did 4-7 week electives in Botswana, which has become the most sought after location for experience in International Medicine for Penn trainees. Penn rents apartments in Gaborone for medical students, residents and short-term visiting faculty, and has office space for faculty in Gaborone. Many of the Penn trainees have described the rotation in Botswana as the most important experience of their medical career. For more information on this rotation, visit the Office of Global Health Programs website.
While we accepted non-Penn residents for rotations in Botswana in the past, we no longer do.
Penn is one of 19 CFAR programs in the USA. The goal of the CFAR is to establish Core facilities to promote HIV research. Penn has established a CFAR Core in Botswana to support clinical and translational research studies. The Core supports study nurses and a microbiology technician to help with sample collection and processing, human subjects approvals, informed consent, and identifying subjects for research studies. Through the activities of the CFAR Core in Botswana a growing number of Penn and Botswana researchers are participating in HIV research. Currently 22 research projects are ongoing in Botswana. All involve Penn scientists and all recent projects include collaborations with colleagues at the University of Botswana or the Ministry of Health. Many of the projects address issues related to HIV and its complications; however, collaborative research projects under development include maternal and child morbidity and mortality, the ethics of informed consent, road accidents and obesity in Botswana.More information on the Penn CFAR website.